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NDTC 57th brings 90 per cent new faces

Published:Sunday | July 14, 2019 | 12:00 AM
NDTC associate director Marlon Simms.
Members of the NDTC performing an excerpt from ‘Blood Canticles’ at ‘A Morning of Music and Movement’ held at the Little Theatre on Easter Sunday, April 21.
NDTC Easter Hymn

Coincidentally, NDTC’s 57th anniversary aligns with Jamaica’s 57th anniversary of independence from the British empire. As a matter of course, the company will show appreciation of the nation’s popular culture by reviving choreography from the late, great Rex Nettleford and others. Symbolically, the company’s 57th season will come like the whisk of a quick, fresh breeze, displaying new dancers and new choreographers, with a lingering of the familiar.

“What you will see is probably 90 per cent fresh faces, and the rest will be familiar ones. This new generation of dancers are working hard, and they recognise the importance of shaping their cultural identity through the arts. They have taken up the mantle,” director Marlon Simms told The Gleaner.

But the older generation are not to be left out of the spotlight as in another happy, admirable coincidence, long-time member Kerry-Ann Henry will celebrate her 25th year on the stage with the company.

This NDTC season of dance will feature pieces by choreographers Renée McDonald, Orville McFarlane and Chris Walker has returned to remount a trio, Simms added. This anniversary’s international guest choreographer is Hope Boykin, an accomplished educator who has choreographed three pieces for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Returning to the stage will be an in-demand remount of Nettford’s ‘Kumina’. “People have been asking for it for two years,” Simms shared. NDTC will also bring back the founding father’s ‘Blood Canticles’. “It’s a demonstration of religious practices in different sects. We did a preview of it at Easter that went over very well, so we’re bringing the entire piece.”

Also certain to delight the audience is a movement by Kevin Moore, set to an arrangement of Buju Banton songs. “This year, we have an active musical director. For her first season with us is Kathy Brown. She arranged the music by Buju and … I’m really excited and the NDTC singers are excited.”

The curtain-raising Gala Night, hosted by the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), will take place on Friday, July 19, at the Little Theatre. Proceeds of the night will benefit programmes in health, education, youth upliftment, and community development associated with the CVSS.

CVSS Vice-Chair Kim Mair explained that the selection of the NDTC’s opening night was strategic. “We saw it as fitting to capitalise on the opening night. It will also allow us to provide our patrons with an insight into the work of the council and the next steps in capacity building for our members,” Mair said.